Jul 08 2019

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After a Big Hike

Posted at 3:40 pm under Blog Post


Two weeks have gone by since my big hike on the Cohos Trail. All my sores and bug bites have healed now, and my joints aren’t bothering me any more. I’m well rested, well fed, and back into my work routine. I’ve been enjoying all the comforts of life here in the developed lowlands: fresh food, cold beer, soft chairs to sit in, being clean, and always having a dry place to sleep at night. And, most of all, the pleasant company of my wife Judy. There’s a lot to be said for civilized living. Yet I’m feeling the urge to get back in the woods again, hiking somewhere, anywhere. Effortless walks around the neighborhood aren’t quite enough.

As time goes by, I think less and less about all the hardships of the trail, and find myself recalling those precious moments in the wild: awakening to a chorus of forest songbirds, drawing water from a clear stream flowing around moss-covered rocks, and tramping down a narrow trail cutting through birches and ferns. The mind filters experiences before storing them away as memories. Yes, I also recall the bloodsucking bugs, the unpleasant boggy stretches, and that terrible last-mile exhaustion of the longer hiking days. But somehow those memories aren’t such a big deal any more. The highs seem to carry more weight than the lows.

Truth is, every extended solitary hike I do rocks my world in a way that doesn’t immediately make sense to me. Two weeks after my big hike, I’m still feeling a little off balance. It takes time to process an immersion in the wild – time enough to contrast and compare it to my regular routine, I suppose. Time for the mental journey to emerge from the physical one. Time for thoughts and feelings to resurface with a careful rereading of my field journal, or while looking at photos, or while simply reflecting upon a memory coming out of nowhere.

In due time, I’ll figure out what exactly happened to me on the Cohos Trail. Only then will I be able to write about it. But that won’t take place until I have a chance to get back in the woods again. After all, wild thoughts and feelings are best processed in wild places. My armchair reflections don’t quite cut it.

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